Steve Evans sets Leeds squad challenging target ahead of huge week for play-off aspirations

Elland Road pitchside

United face two very tough away fixtures before the end of the week.

Steve Evans has set his Leeds United side a difficult target ahead of a potentially season-defining week for the Whites, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.

United go into the fixtures with Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday nine points off the play-off positions after an unbeaten run, that stretched all through December and continued into January, took the club away from a relegation scrap and into mid-table, looking upwards.

And ahead of the games against the Tractor Boys and the Owls, Evans has told his side that they must come through this week in no worse a position than when they started it in terms of the distance between themselves and the top six, and he challenged them to send a message to the rest of the Championship.

"As an absolute minimum - an absolute minimum - we have to come out of this week no further back than nine points. We'll have three homes games in a row after that and our form is picking up at home. I'd back us to take a good number of points of those," Evans said, as reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"I've said before that if we get on a roll then the teams above us will start looking at us and taking notice. This is about as tough as it gets, Tuesday night away to an Ipswich side who are in form, but a result would make the division sit up."

While neither of Leeds' next two opponents are currently battling it out with the likes of Middlesbrough and Derby at the very top of the division, the games are hugely significant to the club's campaign.

Ipswich are sixth in the table, and thus occupy that final play-off spot, while Carlos Carvalhal's men are their nearest rivals, sitting one place below Mick McCarthy's side.

Not only would two victories extend Leeds' unbeaten run to nine games in the league, but it would also warn many of the sides above that Evans' men cannot be discounted from the play-off race.

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